A memoir of a graduate student with the mental capacity of a chicken nugget
Mid-semester crises, questioning success, and the dooming thoughts of what’s next from a U of T master’s student.

Ever felt the mid-semester crisis? A student at Pace University describes it perfectly; she shares that students become so swamped that figuring out where to start is a complete puzzle. The late nights, early days, and overload of tasks and meetings encourage a mind fog, inhibiting us from working further. For those in their final year, although you may be a pro, it’s a completely unmotivating space. In these times of stress, burnout, and the demands of academic and student life, those who choose to be kind to themselves will always win. This is especially true for graduating students who are plagued with the dooming pressures and thoughts of what comes next. 

As a student who graduated in the peak of the pandemic two years ago, and is now graduating from the Master of Public Health Program in Indigenous Health from U of T, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to remember that a grade point average is not forever. Each of us are on our own paths, and these paths will look different depending on the individual. Especially if you’re me, and have test-driven every major imaginable, you are exactly where you need to be. 

Caring for your well-being should be made a priority before making the panicked—and serious—decision of applying to a graduate program. In your final year, you begin to feel the pressures of the real world, and paralysis of what to do next. Alongside the future’s uncertainty, many of us suffer with imposter syndrome. My advice: be confident in who you are, and know that you have made it this far, and should continue with what is best for your personal well-being.  

Academia is an interesting place—it’s a place of prosperity and opportunity, assuming you learn how to accessibly navigate it. It’s a hard space to be in if you don’t have guidance, or if you haven’t found opportunities that are right for you. When this happens, it can be isolating, lonely, and discouraging, and for those in that position, I commend your ability to get through it. Hard work and resilience are never to be undermined—be proud of the accomplishments achieved in your time as a student.

Just remember to choose kindness. The experience of reaching this level of achievement is a huge milestone in your journey—there is no need to be hard on yourself. Reflect back to your first year of university, and think about the kinds of support, guidance, and resources you wish you had been provided, and be proud you made it to where you are. 

To the students who are feeling stuck and pressured in deciding what’s next—whether it’s graduate school, work, an extended well-deserved vacation, or maybe even retirement—reach out to the Career Centre to learn more about their Recent Graduate Opportunities Program. And don’t forget, there are other great campus resources who can share more information and guidance on what to do after graduation! 

From one emerging scholar to another, this isn’t the last you’ve heard from the asthmatic chicken nugget. I will hopefully be back for the end of this trilogy, provided I am successfully admitted to a PhD program. That way, I can update you when I learn how to combat the mid-semester crisis on the third attempt!


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